As if PlayStation Vita sales figures weren't bleak enough, even Sony is beginning to show signs of distress. In a new promotion, Sony is offering a $20 PSN card and "tons of Sony Rewards points" to PSN users who can convince their friends to purchase a PlayStation Vita. Except, this doesn't come off the way Sony intended—it comes off as desperate.
Whatever Sony's intention with this promotion, it feels more like they're begging users to sell the PlayStation Vita for them, since Sony can't sell it effectively themselves. Granted, word of mouth is the best sales strategy a company can hope for, but Sony is putting these words into the mouths of their users. For shame.
[This promotion also implies that people weren't already telling their friends to purchase the Vita. What does that say about the product? ~Ed. Nick]
I, for one, absolutely love the PlayStation Vita hardware. I've been singing its praises from day one. You can even read my original review of the hardware from launch. But that was then, and this is now. Back then, there was a lot of promise. There was a clear pipeline of interesting software ready to release for the system. There was the promise of remote play, which still works just as poorly as it did on the PSP. There was even the promise of a Call of Duty game—a sure system-seller, right? That didn't turn out so well.
Now, I can count the number of upcoming titles on one hand. Maybe two. Software has dried up, and the heavy hitters that were supposed to move units turned out to be duds. Meanwhile, the 3DS has gained some serious steam, and the freight train known as Apple shows no signs of slowing anytime soon, constantly eating away at the handheld market share.
Come Februrary 22nd, the PlayStation Vita will have been on the market for an entire year. It still lacks that must -have game that sells the system. So instead, Sony is relying on people who can see the quality of the hardware to convince their friends to buy one.
As much as I love the PlayStation Vita, I couldn't in good faith tell my friends it's this must-buy system due to the current software outlook. I say "current," because I'm sure more software—better software, even—is on the way. It's just not here now. (On that note, I'll be going hands-on with new Vita games next week at a special event.)
What might work? A price drop. Take that $20 you're using to entice people to convince their friends to buy a Vita, and take it off the top of each Vita sold. The Vita's a great system even at $250. Getting that price down will only increase the perceived value of the hardware. Continue to offer an even greater value through PlayStation Plus. Which brings me to the next point: Cut the price of the memory already, Sony!
Currently, it's $100 for a 32GB memory card. $60 for a 16GB card. That's outrageous and insulting, considering the cost of comparable memory cards that aren't Sony's proprietary cards. Anything less than 16GB is going to get filled up with one fell swoop of PS Plus Instant Game Collection. It's not worth buying, unless you want to slap down money for another card in the following week.
So, Sony—rather than asking your users to become snake oil salesmen, pitching a product that's currently a hard sell, do something to make it an easy sell. Drop the price. Make memory less expensive. And really get out there to garner developer support to keep the software flowing. It's a great system, and we all know it, but only Sony is to blame for the current sales situation. Asking people to sell it for you is embarrassing, and it's not going to work until you make people want to buy it. You're asking users to do your job. Now get to it and sell the PlayStation Vita yourselves.
Oh, and BTW—will you please buy a PlayStation Vita? I could use the PSN credit.